Wisdom from Bryan Caplan

by Russ Roberts on April 8, 2011

in Politics

Bryan is now 40 and in honor of the occasion (and to prevent melancholy, or at least so he says), he lists 40 things he has learned. I think many of them are actually true. All of the list is worth reading. My favorite, I think, is this insight:

Democrats and Republicans are about as different as Catholics and Protestants – and 80% of the union of their mutual recriminations is true.

Earlier tonight I chanced upon this tweet from one CTLiberalMom:

@lcranston1939 it’s not OUR future the Rethuglican’t are worried about.The USA is one big corporate opportunity for them.

Of course Democrats raise a fair amount of money from business as well and Democrats overwhelmingly supported the bailouts of large financial institutions. On foreign policy, President Obama seems as adventurous, profligate, and oblivious to the future (days not weeks, no boots on the ground!) as a President McCain would have been. I wonder how much of our political problems come from misplaced partisanship. I am reminded of this Adam Smith quote from The Theory of Moral Sentiments:

So partial are the views of mankind with regard to the propriety of their own conduct, both at the time of action and after it; and so difficult is it for them to view it in the light in which any indifferent spectator would consider it. But if it was by a peculiar faculty, such as the moral sense is supposed to be, that they judged of their own conduct, if they were endued with a particular power of perception, which distinguished the beauty or deformity of passions and affections; as their own passions would be more immeDiately exposed to the view of this faculty, it would judge with more accuracy concerning them, than concerning those of other men, of which it had only a more distant prospect.

This self-deceit, this fatal weakness of mankind, is the source of half the disorders of human life. If we saw ourselves in the light in which othersseeus, or in which they would seeus if they knew all, a reformation would generally be unavoidable. We could not otherwise endure the sight.

Happy Birthday, Bryan.


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